very inexpensive and very fast / Networks and communications

very inexpensive and very fast / Networks and communications


As one of the official developers of the Wi-Fi 6 (IEEE 802.11ax) standard, Huawei is not by hearsay familiar with all the nuances of organizing wireless data transmission within local networks. In addition, Huawei is actively working to create its own home ecosystem that connects various client devices with Internet access. Among them are routers, although in Russia until recently they were not as popular as other devices from this manufacturer.

Model Huawei Wi-Fi AX3 is interesting for its high performance and at the same time compares favorably with competitors in price. In theory, this model alone could allow a company to gain significant market share almost instantly. Well, since Huawei itself is participating in the standardization of Wi-Fi 6, then the Wi-Fi 6 Plus standard developed by it, which is supported by new routers, does not seem to be some kind of handicraft. What is the technology – we will analyze in the course of the review of the Huawei Wi-Fi AX3 router, to which we will now proceed to acquaintance.

⇡ #Contents of delivery

Packaging and delivery of the Huawei Wi-Fi AX3 router

The Huawei Wi-Fi AX3 router comes in a regular cardboard box. Inside, besides the device itself, a standard set of accessories was found:

  • power adapter;
  • Ethernet cable;
  • a quick, printed setup guide.

⇡ #Specifications and capabilities

Router Huawei Wi-Fi AX3 (WS7200)
CPU Gigahome 1.4 GHz Quad Core
Operational memory, MB 256, DDR3
Flushmemory, MB 128, NAND
Standards 802.11b / g / n / ax (2.4 GHz, wireless speed up to 574 Mbps);

802.11a / n / ac / ax (5 GHz, wireless speeds up to 2402 Mbps)
Wi-Fi class 6 Plus (theoretically capable of speeds up to 3000 Mbps)
Antennas 4 × external

2 × 2, MU-MIMO
Ethernet ports 1 × WAN 10/100/1000 Mbps

3 × LAN 10/100/1000 Mbps
USB ports
Hardware buttons 1 × Pairing (H button)

1 × factory reset

1 × food
Additional functions NFC
Software capabilities Huawei Share (One Touch Connection), Huawei HiLink and 802.11v Protocol, IPv4 / IPv6, PPPoE / DHCP / Static IP / WAN (Bridge), Wi-Fi Timer, Guest Wi-Fi, Device Rate Limiting, MAC address filtering, parental control, VPN pass-through, DMZ / virtual server.
Safety TrustZone protection, account hacking protection by brute-force login and password, WPA3, firewall, DMZ, PAP / CHAP, DMZ / DoS protection.
Performance
Wi-Fi network speed 2.4 GHz, up to, Mbit / s 574
Wi-Fi network speed 5 GHz, up to, Mbps 2402
The total speed of the wireless network, up to, Mbit / s 2976
Dimensions, mm 225 × 160 × 40
Weight, g 403
Official guarantee, month 12
Estimated price *, rub. 4990

* Cost in the official store by pre-order at the time of writing

At the heart of the novelty is a quad-core Gigahome processor, clocked at 1.4 GHz. This is a development of HiSilicon Technologies, Huawei’s processor division, which also produces Kirin chips for smartphones. Another name for this processor is Hi5651T. Note that two models of this router will be officially on sale in Russia, differing in the processor version and the presence of a built-in NFC module, with which any smartphone with the appropriate technology can be connected to a home or guest network with one touch. We are testing an older model with NFC and a quad-core chip. The youngest is running a dual-core processor with a clock speed of 1.2 GHz and costs 1,500 rubles less.

The Huawei Wi-Fi AX3 router boasts four independent signal strength amplifiers. Two of them are used for the 2.4 GHz band, and two more are used for the 5 GHz band. The signal strength can be up to 6 dB. The wired interface of Huawei Wi-Fi AX3 is gigabit. Wireless works with Wi-Fi 6 Plus networks, that is, it is compatible with the generally accepted standard for IEEE 802.11ax networks. The presence of the word Plus in the name of the standard indicates some improvements, which, however, are available only to users of Huawei client devices. First, the signal level between the client and the router is 6 dB higher. Secondly, a finer “slicing” of the band is available, up to 2 MHz.

The novelty can work with a bandwidth of up to 160 MHz and with a modulation level of 1024-QAM, and the OFDMA band sharing technology provides simultaneous data transmission to multiple devices. Up to four such devices can be connected in the 2.4 GHz band, and sixteen in the 5 GHz band. In total, up to 128 devices can be connected to the router on two Wi-Fi bands. To prevent all these devices from wasting their charge when the Wi-Fi module is working, the router can activate them on demand. According to the manufacturer, the use of this technology can save up to 30% of energy.


Huawei HomeSec Security Technology

Huawei HomeSec Security Technology

The security of the novelty is the responsibility of the integrated hardware and software technology Huawei HomeSec, which includes a secure TEE environment and TrustZone mode. It is noteworthy that the new product even has a certificate of the degree of protection CC EAL5, which may be sufficient for commercial use of the router.

Well, the cherry on the cake is the ability to combine multiple Huawei routers into a Mesh network. In this case, it is absolutely not necessary that all routers be of the same model. The most important thing is that they all have a special pairing button “H” on the body. Unfortunately, we only had one router at our disposal, so we couldn’t test the Mesh operation. We can only say that it is possible to combine Huawei routers into a Mesh network via an Ethernet cable, via Wi-Fi, or by combining both methods at once. In which Wi-Fi range the Mesh connection between the routers themselves is provided, the manufacturer does not say. We only know that after configuration, the routers are combined automatically, and the optimal Wi-Fi access point is selected based on their current location.

In general, the technical characteristics and capabilities of Huawei Wi-Fi AX3 would deserve almost the maximum score, if not for one thing. The new product lacks USB ports – therefore, it will not work to connect a disk drive to it or make this device a wired print server. However, for many users, this fact will probably not be critical.

⇡ #Appearance

Apparently, both models of the Huawei Wi-Fi AX3 router will be supplied to Russia only in white, although on the Internet you can find many photos and descriptions of the new product in a black case. The router is quite compact, as is its external 12V / 2A power adapter. Both the adapter and the cable with the plug are also made in white, so the kit looks harmonious. I would like to express separate words of gratitude to the Huawei designers for the matte, scratch-resistant plastic. It is easy to wipe off dust, and the appearance of the router itself will probably not change even after several years of use, unlike varnished devices, which look gorgeous only on advertising photos.

General view of the router Huawei Wi-Fi AX3

At first glance, the rectangular shape of the Huawei Wi-Fi AX3 is very simple. But, looking closer and looking at the novelty from all sides, you begin to understand the design idea. Wherever possible, surfaces converge in a wedge. The main part of the body also converges with a wedge to the leading edge, on which a single LED indicator is located, informing the user about the status of the device.

Huawei Wi-Fi AX3: back panel

The same design solutions can be traced in flat foldable antennas, which rotate only around one axis. Since the antennas have long extensions below the axis of rotation, there is no free space on the rear panel of the case at all. The three available gaps between the antennas are divided among themselves by four Ethernet ports, a socket for connecting a power adapter and two buttons for power management and for a factory reset. Interestingly, to turn on the device when connected to the network, you do not need to press the power button – the router will turn on automatically.

Another button – WPS – is located on the top panel of the case. In the same place, only in the lower right corner, there is an area with a built-in NFC module. This is where you need to bring your smartphone to quickly pair with the network.

Huawei Wi-Fi AX3: bottom and side surfaces

Well, on the bottom surface of the case there are two very narrow rubber feet, as well as numerous ventilation slots shifted to the side edges. There are no holes for vertical fixing of the device to the wall, since the antennas in this case will be in a horizontal position. This should be borne in mind if, for some reason, you are not ready to place the router on a shelf or on a table.

In general, the model Huawei Wi-Fi AX3 looks fresh and modern, and the location of interfaces and controls in this case is subject to clear traditional rules. And the build quality of the new item deserves the highest marks.

⇡ #Connection and configuration

To connect the router using a smartphone, you can use the proprietary HUAWEI AI Life application, or you can simply enter the device’s IP address indicated on the bottom side of the case in the address bar of the Internet browser. The initial setup procedure is simple and does not require any special knowledge. You just need to enter a name and password, and also select the type of router operation, which, if necessary, can be switched to the signal repeater mode. Note that the software interface of the model officially supplied to Russia is completely Russian-language.

Connectivity Huawei Wi-Fi AX3 to external networks

The basic settings of the router are no different from those of the models of other manufacturers. Connection via WAN port is possible via DHCP, PPPoE, or with a static IP address. Also, Huawei Wi-Fi AX3 can be used as a bridge or connected to a local network in the form of a Wi-Fi repeater.

Wi-Fi network settings are presented in full. Here you can disable 2.4GHz connectivity or set priority, set bandwidth, channel, guard interval, and more. Also, the router has the ability to configure an additional guest network with its own restrictions, such as maximum speed and even the duration of existence.

The security features are traditional. Here you can connect a built-in firewall, a PC as a DMZ host, set parental control settings that restrict Internet access to certain sites or by time. In general, the settings of the router are standard and are presented in a fairly complete composition. There is nothing unusual here.

⇡ #Testing

We tested the performance of Huawei Wi-Fi AX3 with several client devices, including an ASUS ZenBook UX331U laptop with an integrated Intel Wi-Fi 5 802.11ac (2 × 2) network adapter, as well as Huawei P40 and Huawei P40 Pro smartphones with Wi modules -Fi 6 802.11ax (2×2), HE160, 1024-QAM. That is, these are ideal mobile clients for our router.


Mobile devices connected to the router at the same time

Mobile devices connected to the router at the same time

Let’s make a reservation right away that an interesting story happened with the connection of these smartphones, as well as the Xiaomi Redmi 4 Pro smartphone. With automatic router settings, these devices completely refused to connect to Wi-Fi at 5 GHz. They just didn’t see the net. And only manually set channel 36 in the web interface allowed them to connect. In the future, no problems with connection and operation were observed. This is probably due to the fact that we had a pre-sale sample of the router in our hands, and this problem was solved, for example, by installing some region other than Russia, or something like that. But we didn’t experiment. Let’s hope that the manufacturer will pay attention to this, and the end user of these data will not have any problems with connecting devices.

A desktop PC with an Intel I350-T2 dual-port gigabit network adapter was used as a server, which exchanged data with client devices. The server was running Microsoft Windows 10 Pro. Also, the Huawei P40 Pro smartphone already mentioned above was used as a server to check the exchange of data between devices connected only via Wi-Fi. Testing was carried out using the iPerf3 software tool. Data transfer in eight streams was used. Test conditions and results are summarized in the table below, and the results of the first tests are also shown in the screenshots as an example.

No. Route Direction Speed,
Mbps
1 Client devices at a distance of 1.5 from the router. Sequential data transfer
a) Server (S) – AX3 – Huawei P40 (C) from C to S 875
from S to C 936
b) Server (S) – AX3 – Huawei P40 Pro (C) from C to S 815
from S to C 838
c) Server (S) – AX3 – ASUS ZenBook UX331U (C) from C to S 453
from S to C 334
d) Huawei P40 Pro (S) – AX3 – Huawei P40 (C) from C to S 665
from S to C 690
e) Huawei P40 Pro (S) – AX3 – ASUS ZenBook UX331U (C) from C to S 153
from S to C 121
2 Client devices and a router in different rooms. Sequential data transfer
a) Server (S) – AX3 – Huawei P40 (C) from C to S 381
from S to C 417
b) Server (S) – AX3 – Huawei P40 Pro (C) from C to S 604
from S to C 423
c) Server (S) – AX3 – ASUS ZenBook UX331U (C) from C to S 201
from S to C 187
d) Huawei P40 Pro (S) – AX3 – Huawei P40 (C) from C to S 225
from S to C 208
e) Huawei P40 Pro (S) – AX3 – ASUS ZenBook UX331U (C) from C to S 115
from S to C 102
3 Client devices at a distance of 1.5 from the router.

Data transmission in conjunction with SpeedTest by WAN on server
a) Server (S) – AX3 – Huawei P40 Pro (C) from C to S 557
from S to C 726
b) Huawei P40 Pro (S) – AX3 – Huawei P40 (C) from C to S 591
from S to C 712

The results of testing the throughput of Huawei Wi-Fi AX3 with various options for connecting client devices

Test 1a (from C to S)

Test 1a 2 (S to C)

Test 1b (from C to S)

Test 1b 2 (from S to C)

Test 1g (C to S)

Test 1g (S to C)

Results of tests 1a, 1b, 1d

Information on connecting smartphones to the Huawei Wi-Fi AX3 router

Judging by the results of test # 1, during testing, we got bandwidth limitation either from a gigabit wired channel or from the capabilities of smartphones. Unfortunately, our laptop with a Wi-Fi 5 802.11ac module turned out to be weaker in this respect than modern smartphones. The performance potential of the Huawei Wi-Fi AX3 is clearly higher than client devices reveal.

But in tests 1d and 1d, where the data exchange rate was measured between two wireless clients connected to the router, the manufacturer decreased and the client’s capabilities became less. So, for smartphones, the data exchange rate has dropped from 800-900 Mbps to 650-700 Mbps. It is difficult to say what exactly this is connected with, since we did not have any other technology with Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax on testing.

However, the weak point of the 5 GHz wireless channel, on which clients connected to the router, is very easy to find. These are the walls. Test series # 2 clearly demonstrates performance degradation when client devices are separated into different rooms. These tests are completely identical to the tests of series # 1 – with an accuracy to the presence of walls between the devices, but the speed drops by 1.5-2 times. This problem is not unique to the Huawei Wi-Fi AX3 model. In addition, in our case, it is decided by the purchase of a second device, and, if required by the premises, a third, fourth, and so on.

In the third series of tests, we made the task more difficult. In test # 3a, a SpeedTest Ookla WAN connection speed test was run on a wired server in parallel with data transfer in the local network. In test # 3b, where a smartphone was used as a server, the SpeedTest Ookla WAN connection speed test was also run on a wired PC connected to a router. Smartphones were used as clients, showing very similar results despite slightly different testing conditions. The results turned out to be lower than the maximum ones obtained in tests 1a and 1b.


Testing a WAN connection using SpeedTest Ookla

Testing a WAN connection using SpeedTest Ookla

As for the results of testing the Internet connection using SpeedTest Ookla, there were no surprises here. When connected to a provider at a speed of 700 Mbit / s, the data transfer rates in the network are limited by this value.

⇡ #conclusions

Despite the low cost, the Huawei Wi-Fi AX3 router is a model with a serious reserve for the future. The performance of this device is sufficient to satisfy the capabilities of almost any home user. Minor flaws in the firmware will probably be fixed soon, but in all other respects the new product is as good as some top model from competitors, the cost of which is two or more times higher. The only hardware drawback is the lack of USB ports. But there are much more advantages:

  • interesting design;
  • productive hardware base;
  • built-in NFC module;
  • 160 MHz bandwidth and other advantages of Wi-Fi 6 Plus;
  • hardware and software security complex with data encryption;
  • the possibility of organizing a Mesh network;
  • simple and straightforward software.

Что касается портов USB, то, поскольку на основе Huawei Wi-Fi AX3 можно построить Mesh-сеть, никто не мешает дополнительно подключить ещё один роутер, у которого будет требуемый порт. Заодно и зона покрытия существенно расширится. В общем, Huawei Wi-Fi AX3 – это очень интересный роутер по очень привлекательной цене.

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